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Digital Champions bring IT skills to older community

20 July 2015

Age UK Sheffield is training ‘Digital Champions’ to help older people use the internet and learn online skills.


Age UK Sheffield has won £5,000 funding from the Tinder Foundation to deliver one-to-one digital learning sessions to up to 300 older people in Sheffield.

The Digital Champions scheme was introduced following feedback from members of The Club, which offers the over 50s opportunities to become more active, meet new people, enjoy excursions and learn and enhance their skills.

The Crucible Theatre has given the charity free use of its café/bar creating a relaxed learning environment for the sessions.

Steve Wylie, Age UK Sheffield Club Manager, said: “Members told us they found it hard to learn in large groups or by relying on friends or relatives, who mean well but often speed through the basics leaving them confused. Our one-to-one sessions will give them the skills they need, taught at their pace and in a comfortable environment.

“This will be a volunteer-led service and we’re particularly keen for older people themselves to volunteer to help share their knowledge with their peers.

“More and more services are moving online and we know that older people are being left behind. These one-to-one sessions are a way for us to help our members gain the skills they need to make the most of the huge benefits of the internet, including accessing public services, saving money, pursuing interests and keeping in touch with friends or family.”

Age UK Sheffield’s Digital Champions initiative follows concerns raised by adult education charity, Niace, whose annual survey recently found fewer than a third of 55- to 64-year-olds are involved in any learning, with many people in this age group lacking any digital skills.

Age UK Sheffield has also been awarded an additional £1,500 from the Tinder Foundation to signpost members to which includes links to the main NHS website.

Added Steve: “This new Digital Champion project complements our existing member offer with John Lewis, where members can receive £50 vouchers and a free lunch in the Place to Eat if they purchase a computer from John Lewis.

“This project is another example of how we can offer support in a number of ways, including one-to-one practical assistance tailored to individual needs, all of which impacts on and improves members’ lives by helping them to regain and maintain their independence.”

Free membership of The Club is currently available to anyone registered with a Sheffield GP aged 50 and over - a saving of £25.